Tue, Jul 10, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Civic associations urge passage of pension plan bill

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Several civic groups visited the legislature yesterday to urge lawmakers to pass the draft national pension plan bill during the extra legislative session that begins today.

The Social Welfare Alliance of Taiwan, a grouping of 20 associations, and the Social Welfare Association, visited the legislature.

"The importance of the national pension plan goes beyond party interests and political ideologies, therefore we urge all parties to give the [pension plan] bill priority during the extra session," said Pai Hsiu-hsiung (白秀雄), president of the alliance.

Pai said civic groups have been pushing for a national pension plan -- which would draw its funds from workers' monthly salaries -- since 1993.

The groups were received by 19 lawmakers across party lines who expressed their support for the legislation.

"Taiwan has the second-highest growth rate in terms of an aging population, but we don't have any social insurance to look after people in their old age," Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋) said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Li-huan (楊麗環) cited the low birth rate as another key reason for having a national pension plan.

"As people are having fewer children, it will be hard for them to rely on their children when they grow old," Yang said. "A national pension that accumulates funds while people are still young would be a more stable source of income for them during old age."

DPP Legislator William Lai (賴清德) said that a pension plan would benefit "around 4 million people who are not covered by any social insurance, mostly housewives.

Lawmakers from the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party also gave their support.

However, DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) was pessimistic about the bill's chances after the Procedure Committee decided yesterday that the pension proposal would be the 13th legislative item to be discussed.

"The KMT actually controls whether the bill will pass as it holds the majority in the Procedure Committee," Huang said. "If the bill is not placed at the head of the long legislative queue, it's unlikely that it will be passed during the extra session."

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